December 6, 2008
So I bought this on Amazon, tacked it onto another purchase because they suggested I would like it. Affinity marketing is getting better and better, right? Besides, the cover is gorgeous—and it’s selling really well. And the last best-selling mystery I bought at Amazon’s suggestion was the glorious In the Woods by Tana French.
First of all, it’s in hardcover. Not a dealbreaker but an annoyance since I do much of my reading on the subway. Fortunately I got through most of it on the plane from San Diego to New York.
Second, the translation’s bad. I’ve made it through a few of Henning Mankell’s mysteries and I’m now hacking my way through Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses and I wonder what it is about Scandinavian translators. Is it that they all learn very correct but lifeless English? And I suppose we native English-speakers just don’t learn Swedish or Norwegian, assuming (perhaps correctly) that there’s not much of a living in translating Scandinavian fiction.
Except in this case. It takes Larsson (a former journalist) close to 100 pages to set up his plot in all its complexity. The protagonist is a financial journalist, the girl of the title is a waiflike computer hacker with Asperger’s. This unlikely duo – can’t you just see the movie posters? – unmask a mass murderer and bring down a corrupt financial empire but it all seems to happen under water, somehow. My favorite part was a few pages at the end when the waif performs some legerdemain involving bank accounts in Zurich: but then I realized I really prefer John LeCarré anyway.